By highway or skyway?

Martes, Diciembre 31, 2013

Tour coaches, taxis, and planes are currently very distinct forms of transportation. Sometimes there are situations in which we aren’t sure which type of transportation to choose; each one has its advantages and disadvantages. In the perhaps not-too-distant future, we’ll be able to use just one form of transportation.

PAL-V (Personal Air and Land Vehicle) car

Last week the Dutch company PAL-V performed a test flight with the prototype of their PAL-V (Personal Air and Land Vehicle) car. The PAL-V is a personal vehicle that serves as both an airborne vehicle and a road-driven vehicle. At the moment, the prototype has room for two seats. You could say that the PAL is a combination of a three-wheeled sports car and a helicopter. On the road it can reach the same speeds as a racecar and in the air it can go as fast as 180 km per hour (110 miles per hour).

The PAL doesn’t take off vertically; instead, it needs a 165-meter-long (180-yard-long) runway, which can be grass or asphalt. After deploying the tail and rotor, the PAL speeds up and takes off.

The development of this innovative form of transportation is the fruit of a collaboration between Delft Technical University in Holland and the Dutch National Aerial Transportation Laboratory. Now that the prototype works, the PAL-V entrepreneurs are looking for investors so they can start production and sell the first unit in 2014. They will be sold to the public for about €200,000 ($260,000 or £160,000). There’s already a similar product in the US that will enter the market this year.

So, what do you tour operators and travel agencies think about all this? Once these vehicles are big enough to take groups, would you use one to take your group to see a Barcelona-Madrid match? Or for quick transportation from the airport to avoid traffic and congested highways? A guided tour to Toledo in one hour? The Way of St. James by air? How would you use a hired car or bus that could also fly?

And how about you businessmen in the bus and transportation industry? Would you send your drivers to get a pilot’s license? Right now it may seem like a weird product, but it could very well be that they’ll come out with versions with more seats that could be used for exclusive tourism services.

Tell me what you think!